Traveling with young child can, at times, be a nightmare. Children have a lot of energy, and it can be hard for them to sit still for an extended period of time. I personally have traveled by car with a young child, and trust me, it was no picnic. Memorial Day is coming up soon, and during this time, many family’s take vacations, often far from home. Here are three tips that I have found that work well when traveling with young children. Some of these tips, however, may needed to be adjusted appropriately to suit the child, their age, and their preferences.
With the invention of GPS, I have found that I am guilty of not planning ahead as much as I used to in the past. Planning the trip, as much as possible is very important when traveling with children. There are many things one needs to consider such as bathroom breaks, eating, breaks from the car, and even plan for a possible “meltdown” from a young child. Here are some tips that can help to be better prepared for when traveling with young kids.
- Rest stops – Look at a map and determine what route you are taking to reach your destination. On the map, there should be rest stops listed or your can look online for rest areas or find apps in the App Store.
- Restaurants with playgrounds – When planning your trip, look into restaurants along your route that have playgrounds for the kids to play in. It will relieve much needed stress, and help them to get rid of their pent-up energy.
- Parks – Depending on the time of year one is traveling, as well as the destination, look into parks where the kids can play for a short time. This too will help to relieve the stress of traveling with young children, plus this gives you an opportunity to enjoy your children and give them something to remember. Don’t forget to take pictures!
- Stores – When you or your children need a break, go shopping! This is also a great opportunity if it is raining or cold outside. Everyone gets to walk around for a little bit, and this would be a great opportunity to “restock” any items that may have been used up during the trip, or get your little one something new to help keep them calm in the car.
One easy way to distract a young child on a long car trip is to buy them a couple of new toys that are car-appropriate. I have found it beneficial to buy a couple of small things for the trip to your destination and a couple of new things for the trip home.
- Movies – If you have a portable TV and/or a portable DVD player, get your kids a couple of new movies that they have wanted to see. Don’t, however, forget their favorites. Since I, and I am assuming many other parents, can only tolerate so many songs or cartoon voices in a confined space, there are earphones or headsets available for children. Make sure to get devices that are age-appropriate and safe for your child before letting them use them, and as always read any directions provided with the packaging.
- Books – If you, or your child, is one of those people that can read in a moving car without getting car sick, pick up a couple of your child’s favorite books to read. This also helps with “quiet time” in the car if this is a possibility for you and your family.
- Games – Many game manufacturers make portable games nowadays that work great when traveling. These work great with older kids. Also a deck of cards works great. Make sure that the games are age appropriate for your child to play with. Read the directions and/or inserts with any questions or concerns about piece sizes and recommended age.
Every person has his or her own favorite treat or snack. Consider buying your child something special ahead of time to eat during the trip (if they are old enough), or to eat while taking a break. Try to get them a favorite drink or snack. It may also help to get special treats for a “reward” when they are behaving well or whatever you determine as a reasonable need for a reward.
Traveling with children does not have to be a nightmare. With a little planning, and a few extra stops along the way, traveling with kids and be quite enjoyable. Remember, your destination will be there whenever you arrive. Take this time to “smell the roses” with your kids and create memories on the way to your family vacation. Drive safely and happy travels!